Reading guide for Ever By My Side by Dr. Nick Trout

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Ever By My Side

A Memoir in Eight Acts Pets

By Dr. Nick Trout

Ever By My Side
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  • Hardcover: Feb 2011,
    320 pages.
    Paperback: Feb 2012,
    320 pages.

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

A modern James Herriot, Dr. Nick Trout has captivated pet lovers with his bestselling tales from the frontlines of veterinary medicine. now Dr. Trout takes us behind the scenes with tales from his own life as a pet lover, and the dogs and cats that shaped his world. From his English boyhood to his career and marriage in the united States, Dr. Trout introduces us to the memorable furry friends who helped him through some especially difficult times, including his daughter's diagnosis with a serious illness. through poignant recollections, Ever By My Side captures the journey of a man who followed his heart and devoted his life to healing animals, while letting them heal him in return.

Heartwarming and inspiring, Ever By My Side celebrates the special joy that comes from a beloved pet. We hope that the following questions will enhance your reading group's experience of this moving memoir.

Discussion Questions
  1. Dr. Trout begins by describing his earliest experiences with dogs - his maternal grandmother's toy poodle, Marty, and his paternal grandmother's dalmatian, cleo. What do these scenes reveal about the way humans and animals reject or accept each other?

  2. What did Dr. Trout's parents teach him about being a parent (including being the "parent" of a pet)?

  3. Dr. Trout describes Patch as his father's kindred spirit. What made this German shepherd perfectly suited to father and son in this case?

  4. James Herriot was clearly a role model for Dr. Trout, and for his father. How did All Creatures Great and Small compare to the world Dr. Trout encountered as a veterinarian? What lessons did Ryan James, the Trout family's veterinarian, impart?

  5. What did Dr. Trout discover about himself as he made the transition from Patch to Whiskey? What did he discover about gender and temperament by watching Patch and Bess interact?

  6. In addition to job opportunities, what did Dr. Trout hope to gain by venturing to America? in what ways was he suited to American culture? What common ground did he find with Kathy, who would become his wife?

  7. How was Dr. Trout transformed by his new role as stepfather to Whitney, and to Reginald C. Cat? What challenges did he endure with Reggie that he had never encountered with dogs?

  8. As Dr. Trout and his wife face Emily's diagnosis, is their medical training a benefit or a hindrance? How does Buster (the brawny bulldog) change their perspective?

  9. What makes Sophie, the Jack Russell terrier, hard for Dr. Trout to train? How was the challenge different from when his father had tried to train Patch?

  10. When Emily insisted on a yellow Labrador, what personality traits was she hoping for? In what ways did Meg fulfill the dream?

  11. When Dr. Trout's father adopts Sasha near the end of the book, we're reminded that pet ownership can mean cycles of attachment and loss, and vibrancy and failing health as the animals we love live out their days. What does Ever By My Side ultimately teach us about life, and about healing?

  12. describe the pet that made the biggest difference in your life. What effect did you and this pet have on each other?

  13. Discuss the book's title, Ever By My Side. What does the book say about animals' loyalty, as well as their need for independence?

  14. Were you surprised to discover that Fiona eventually got a dog (a golden retriever, no less, named Lily)? Dr. Trout's mother was also resistant to pets at first. What did it take to persuade them to see the benefits of canine companionship?

  15. Dr. Trout's previous books, Love Is the Best Medicine and the bestseller Tell Me Where It Hurts, capture his life as a veterinarian, whereas Ever By My Side reveals his journey with his own pets. did you enjoy this inside look? What was it like for you to see him in another light?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Broadway Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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